Just as the creation of the railway system changed 19th century society, so railway-speak is threatening to undermine our 21st-century language.
As brilliantly outlined by the Guardian’s style guide editor David Marsh today, the language inflicted on rail travellers bears little relation either to common sense or common usage.
What, for example, is a “station stop”? And why “personal belongings”? When does my briefcase become “impersonal”?
According to railway speak, the train will be “arriving into” Paddington. “Arriving at” is not only correct, it is one syllable shorter.
In fact, the overcrowding of syllables on passenger trains is a daily problem. Trains never leave, they “depart”. They never arrive, they “terminate”.
Finally, sit back and enjoy David Marsh’s railway-speak version of domestic conversation – “This is Julie, your customer host. I do advise Colin that I am now serving a full range of sausages, chips, beans, breads, butters and teas in the at-home kitchen. I do apologise that there is no at-armchair trolley service”. Brilliant.